Tanka movement

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The Tanka movement was a militant agrarian struggle on behalf of the Hajong tribal people in Mymensingh District, East Bengal (initially in India, later East Pakistan) 1942-1950. The movement was parallel, but distinct from, the Tebhaga movement in other parts of Bengal. The Hajong movement was inspired by the struggles of Moni Singh.[1][2][3]

Bengali communist cadres had arrived in the Hajong areas in the 1930s, and helped to organise the Hajong peasants. During the period of 1942 and 1945, Hajong share-croppers organized in the Kisan Sabha struggled against feudal domination of Bengali Hindu landlords. There was a severe crackdown against the movement in 1946. The Hajong then turned to guerrilla struggles. By the time of independence of Pakistan, the Hajong guerrillas operating along the Indo-Pakistani border were well organised.[3][4]

Hajong armed communist rebels captured control over a number of villages and set up their own administration there. The Hajong rebels were led by Lalit Sarkar and Padmalochan Sarkar.[2] After being confronted by the Pakistani Army, the rebels built up a base in Baghmara, Garo Hills on the Indian side of the border. For some time they conducted frequent cross-border raids against Pakistani police parties. Additional Pakistani police forces were sent to the area, patrolling the entire border area of the Mymensingh District.[2][3]

The Pakistani state forces conducted a violent campaign of repression against the Hajong people, and most Hajongs left Pakistan for India.[3] Pakistani authorities claimed that "almost all" of the Hajong refugees were communist sympathizers, a claim that was used to motivate the expropriation of their households and lands. These lands were sold to Bengali Muslim refugees from India at low rates.[1][3]

The rebels eventually settled down permanently in India. Lalit Sarkar founded a branch of the Communist Party of India in the Garo Hills, whilst Padmalochan Sarkar founded a branch of the same party in the Khasi Hills along with Raimohan Hajong and Chandramohan Hajong.[2]


  1. ^ a b Bal, Ellen. They Ask If We Eat Frogs: Garo Ethnicity in Bangladesh. IIAS/ISEAS series on Asia. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007. p. 176
  2. ^ a b c d Sen Gupta, Susmita. Radical Politics in Meghalaya: Problems and Prospects. Delhi: Kalpaz Publications, 2009. pp. 48-49
  3. ^ a b c d e Schendel, Willem van. The Bengal Borderland: Beyond State and Nation in South Asia. London: Anthem Press, 2005. pp. 99-100, 260
  4. ^ Sarkar, Sumit. Beyond Nationalist Frames: Postmodernism, Hindu Fundamentalism, History. Bloomington [u.a.]: Indiana University Press, 2002. p. 237